Monday, February 3, 2014

Tales of a Feather

The Emperor's Nightingale and Other Feathery Tales is a collection of avian poetry and stories, gathered and illustrated by Jane Ray. It's a gorgeously bright and (mostly) happy collection of morals and whimsy, from sources ranging from the Brothers Grimm to the Bible. While, of course, she must leave poetry as is, Ray retells the stories and fables at a clear and easy-reading elementary school level. It seems a bit strange to begin with a tragic tale (The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde) but she then moves through such a variety of emotions and time periods and experiences and locations that it demonstrates just how deeply birds are integrated into the stories and myths of all cultures, both in moments joyous and tragic. Birds can be friends, former lovers, saviors and fools. They are creatures of such variety that they lend themselves well as stand-ins for ourselves in almost every situation from the commonplace to the divine.
He was warm and comfortable, nestled among soft feathers and lulled to sleep by the hushing sound of the great creature's wings as they soared among the stars. -- The Firebird
It appears from the introduction that Ray intends to have other themed collections and I think these, starting with this one, would make beautiful library and gift books worthy of any library.

From wing to tale,

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


  1. How cool! I'm not up on illustrators at all, but I've loved Jane Ray for ages. Her drawings are absolutely gorgeous -- apparently Britain has a new edition of some Rumer Godden stories, illustrated by Jane Ray. (yay)

    1. This was the first time that I had seen Jane Ray's artwork but it's really beautiful and I loved the palette they chose for this book too!